FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

US Rides Weapons Bonanza Wave

War, instability, and high oil prices have created a perfect storm of profit for the world’s weapons manufacturers. This year, military analysts predict the biggest arms bonanza since 1993 which is saying something because in the aftermath of the first Gulf War the global industry reaped the benefits of a $42 billion arms race.

As the world’s largest producer and exporter, the United States is riding the wave. For fiscal year 2006, which ended on September 31, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency churned out notices for $21 billion in arms sales offers . In most cases, that agency is required to notify Congress of all potential major arms deals worth more than $14 million. In one typical day-September 28-the DSCA issued notification on $5.5 billion in agreements. South Korea would get $1.5 billion in Patriot missile equipment and other hardware, Turkey was offered a $2.9 billion package including 30 F-16 fighter planes, while Jordan and Chile were also offered weapons packages.

While not all deals are finalized with arms deliveries, these notifications are a way of taking the pulse of the weapons market and it is racing. U.S. a rms sales offers for 2006 appear to be roughly twice the levels of any other year during the Bush administration. Noteworthy among these are the $5 billion deal for F-16s to Pakistan and a $5.8 billion agreement to completely re-equip Saudi Arabia’s internal security force.

The Perfect Storm

In the case of Pakistan and other allies in the war on terrorism, sales are booming as sanctions and embargoes imposed because of human rights concerns or nuclear proliferation are being lifted. For Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations, the price at the pump (which topped $3 a gallon this summer) freed up cash for weapons. Finally, war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in corners of the globe where the war on terrorism is being waged more quietly, allows foreign militaries to see some of the most advanced weapons systems in action. As one U.S. government source told The Times of London in August: “Conflicts act like a customer demonstration show and we tend to see an upsurge in sales because other countries [are] impressed by what is available.”

This storm equals rainbows and pots of gold for the defense industry. For example, Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, stands to reap more than $11 billion in possible new offers. U.S. weapons companies may have patriotic slogans (Lockheed Martin’s is “We Never Forget Who We’re Working For”), but foreign sales mean the biggest bucks because they involve systems where research and development costs were covered by the Pentagon. Also, they are often accompanied by lucrative deals for accessories, spare parts, and eventual upgrades.

But, what means money in the bank for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other defense corporations, often means misery where the weapons are shipped. Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of U.S. weapons end up in countries plagued with ongoing conflict and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. According to the annual Conventional Arms Sales to the Developing World released by the Congressional Research Service in November, the United States provided countries in the developing world with more than $11 billion in U.S. arms last year. Of these 25 countries, all had human rights problems according to the State Department’s Human Rights Report, and 10 (including three of the top five) were “undemocratic” in the sense that citizens of those nations “did not have a meaningful right to change their government” in a peaceful manner.

This is the eighth year in a row that the United States has led in global arms deliveries. The United Kingdom trailed in second with $3.1 billion and Russia was a close third, at $2.8 billion in arms deliveries. Together, these three weapons exporters where responsible for almost 70% all arms delivered worldwide last year.

In late October, the United Nations began work on the Arms Trade Treaty, which is aimed at curbing arms transfers to major human rights abusers and areas of conflict. The treaty would also urge weapons suppliers to limit weapons sales likely to undermine development in poor nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution, while 24 (including many other major weapons suppliers) abstained.

The General Assembly will take the next step, but without the active participation of the world’s largest weapons producer and exporter, this important mandate will not be strong enough to counter the perfect storm of profiting from war.

FRIDA BERRIGAN is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute’s Arms Trade Resource Center. Her primary research areas with the project include nuclear-weapons policy, war profiteering and corporate crimes, weapons sales to areas of conflict, and military-training programs. She is the author of a number of Institute reports, most recently Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict. She can be reached at: berrigaf@newschool.edu

 

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: Usa Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail